Fall & Winter Safety Tips For the Whole Family – Updated 2017

Holiday safety is always at the top of everyone’s mind as the end of the year rolls towards us. But the truth is, it isn’t the “holiday” safety part that’s the issue. It’s the linked increase in accidents, house fires, and theft that has everyone worried. Many of these incidents are preventable, and we’re compiled an expansive list of tips to ensure your holiday safety!

Halloween Inspired

Our tradition of “trick or treating” is a long-celebrated event for both children and adults. And the holidays are a time for fun and excitement, not bad news and misfortune. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. These tips will help you and your family safe during this sweet holiday.

  1. SpookyYou’ll probably see this classic tip throughout this article, but planning ahead can detour many potential safety issues. These issues could be anything from avoiding habitually congested roads, an accident, or seasonal weather-related situation. Planning ahead can not only give you the easiest and best route, but can also allow you
  2. Trick or treating in a group may ensure oodles of safety for your family. Coordinate with friends and family and go together from door to door! Better yet, try out one of those malls or centers where your families can trick or treat in a watched and populated area.
  3. If you are going out around your neighborhood, pack a flashlight (maybe an extra) and wear something reflective to ensure visibility for both yourself and other vehicles around you. A vest, shirt, or even a bracelet can enhance your presence and allow for cars to see you in the dark.
  4. Many parties happen throughout the region during Halloween. Ensure alternative commuting methods and consider leaving some lights on at your residence. This not only provides luminosity when you’re returning, but will offer the illusion to passersby that you’re home. Even if you don’t answer the door, people will think twice about forcible entry.

Whether you’re planning a casual night in or a while night of candy and fun, preparation is the first step!

Home & Household

Keeping our home secure is always a top priority. But, sometimes we overlook the small things that may mean a world of difference.

  1. One way to deter thieves during longer vacations, while you’re squeezing in long hours at work, or staying out late shopping if to keep a few lights on in your home and on your porch. Changing up the light is also a way to keep up the illusion through multiple late nights. If you’re out of down, ask a neighbor to stop by!
  2. Decorations are a huge part of the end of year season, whether that be seasonal decorations, or Halloween/New Year’s These decorations, while beautiful and cozy, can add extra fire, safety, and/or choking hazards to your family. Does this mean you shouldn’t decorate for what many consider the best season of the year? NO! Decorate to your heart’s content, but be aware of potential hazards and decorate accordingly.
  3. If you’re decorating with string lights, make sure to double check each light’s functionality and for damaged wire or cabling. A loose connection or exposed wire could shock an unknowing child or adult and/or cause a housefire. If you’re stringing them outdoors, double check the packaging and labeling to ensure they’re appropriate for outdoor usage.
  4. Double and triple check your outdoor lights and ensure proper functionality. Keeping outward light on can help feign the presence that you’re home and active.

Travelling

In some capacity, many of us travel to visit family during the holidays and into the new year relating to an increase in automobile accidents. Whether you’re driving to a different state or a few miles away, remaining diligent and active will ensure safe travels.

These easy-peasy tips may help you stay on track, and not get stuck on the side of the road during Washington’s snowy season.

  1. Get your tires and vehicle checked out before making the trip. Oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and general maintenance will ensure your car is in top working order, before you start the journey. You may even find something you hadn’t noticed, but would have caused road trouble.
  2. Stock your car. Pack extra blankets, a few snacks, jumper cables, and a basic first aid kit to make sure your family’s covered if anything were to happen and/or your car were to break down. A spare fire and practicing tire-changing now could help you get out of a tough situation later. Better yet, teach your family members, so they can assist during the potential crisis. You may also consider things like flashlights, a basic tool kit, and an extra car phone charger.
  3. Charge your phone, but put it away! During long road trips, anything can happen and your safety is a top priority. Ensuring your phone is “topped out” or fully-charged may help you if your car were to break down during your travels. Keep the phone away, because distracted drivers can increase potential crashes. Make a playlist before your trip, and let it play!
  4. If you’re planning on travelling through a potentially snowy area, put a set or two of snow-chains or change to your snow tires before your trip. A family practice session of putting on snow tires can also help when you may have to do it in three (or more) inches of snow.
  5. Planning ahead can ensure you’re using the easiest and safest route on your travels. Use Google Maps or a similar site can help you avoid traffic and avoid heavily trafficked or dangerous routes.
  6. And, finally, buckle in those seat belts & car seats!

Remember, even if the travelers are coming to you, you can still help ensure others safety. Turn on your house lights so they can better find your property and consider emailing directions ahead of time, in case they get lost without signal.

Fireplaces & Candles

Isn’t one of the best things about fall and winter, the cozy nights curled up in front of a blazing fire? Or a campfire with marshmallows and gram crackers? But, according to the National Fire Protection Association reports Decembers as the highest percentage of home candle fires, with 11%, compared to the 4% the rest of the year. And that the top 3 days out of the entire year for home candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. #FireFacts

It’s safe to say that fires are easily preventable (and here are some tips from ole’ Smokey). Our tips below are broad and hopefully will help in and around your home yearround!

  1. Ensuring candles are on a high and stable surface can be an easy way to ensure they won’t fall and keeping them high can ensure children won’t run by, causing them to fall, or grab at them aimlessly.
  2. Getting annual fire place and chute checkups can reduce carbon monoxide hazards and internal build-up. Getting an annual checkup can ensure proper function, efficiency, and can reduce fire-related hazards.
  3. Keep flammable materials away from an open flame. These hidden firestarters are easy to spot and move away from an existing fire or candle. This can include curtains, trees, plants, wreaths, papers, books, or other flammable items.

Security OnlineShopping

During the holidays, we spend a decent amount of time shopping, whether that be online or in person at your local center. Doing business with companies we know and trust are two great ways to keep our private information secure, even when catching the online deals!

  1. Tend to pay with debit or credit cards – try not to carry oodles of cash while out shopping around.
  2. Shoppers carrying handbags or satchels should also keep a close eye on their belongings.
  3. Track your charges closely while shopping online, and double check line by line. Ensure your purchasing from both legitimate and secure websites.
  4. Many website groups caution using public WI-FI while you’re out shopping or grabbing a coffee re-caffeinate.
  5. Various phishing, attachment, and email scams are circling, and they’re only expected to pick up as we move into the end-of-year season. Check out this fabulous article on preventative steps and things to be on the lookout for! These tips can also help you guard against cybercrime.

External Home Safety & Deterring Holiday Package Theft & Burglaries

In many areas around the United States (and beyond) reported thefts and burglaries skyrocket during the last quarter of the year, otherwise known as the Holiday Season. Ensuring your family, home and possession’s safety is at the top of many people’s mind and the following tips can help you deter potential thieves.

  1. Though I’m sure your electric bill is already higher than normal (you know, heating and extra lights and such), you may consider leaving your front, back and/or side porch lights on throughout the night. Go a little further and leave them on during shadowy or gloomy days for added presence. Even if you don’t want to leave them on all the time, consider investing in a timer so they go on and off automatically and change it up every now and again so no one catches on to your evasiveness.
  2. Another tip is to change your shipping address to your work or pick them up at the postal service. Unless your home is extremely secluded (and sometimes even if it is), people may be prowling your neighborhoods or area for easy-pickings. During the holiday season, this is all too common in neighborhoods across the nation. Likewise, if you’re out shopping, keep your purchases close or hide them out of sight of potential robbers. Also consider parking in a well-lit and heavily-trafficked area to further deter potential theft.
  3. Cameras are the gift that keeps on giving. Investing in cameras and installing them in well-lit areas can not only help prevent theft, but can also aid the police if a theft inevitably occurs. On the same note, a working alarm system can also help in many aspects. Sometimes, even the sign is enough to discourage a would-be criminal. Either way, if you’re headed out of town, consider asking a trusted neighbor or friend to check in on your home, and turn some lights on and off throughout the day or week.

Each family and situation are different, but this list has details you’ll find useful when optimizing your holiday season. Our family and our homes are our safe spaces and we love the feeling we get when we close the doors behind us and lock the latch.

What are your favorite tips for staying safe during the winter season?